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Tax increases becoming a Peabody holiday tradition

7 Dec

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

So, I know that we need the money to run the city, and certainly we can argue all day whether Peabody has a spending problem, a revenue problem, or – most likely – both.

santa

After raising taxes for the 17th straight year, Peabody’s leaders deserve a lump of coal from this guy.

But tonight, during the city council meeting at Wiggin Auditorium, Mayor Ted Bettencourt – who since his watch began in 2012 has raised taxes on residents every year – will step to the mic during the annual tax classification hearing, and give us all another great, big holiday kiss.

In what has become an annual refrain in this space since we first started aggravating the powers that be five years ago . . . Merry Christmas, Peabody residents, your taxes are going up again.

Now, I don’t plan to dissect the budget in today’s missive, and talk about why we must endure yet another increase (I’ll let the mayor do that). And, please keep in mind that this hasn’t only been a Bettencourt problem.

After 20 years of not raising taxes under the reign of Powerful Pete Torigian, we’ve since endured 17 straight years of annual residential increases. So . . . we can also give some of the dubious “credit” to Mike Bonfanti.  Following many years of frugal management by a mayor who one legendary local scribe used to call “the Emperor,” Bonfanti racked up 11 straight years of tax increases.

Since I don’t want to steal the current mayor’s thunder by giving all the gory details, tune into PAT Channel 9 tonight, starting at 7 to learn about Teflon Ted’s gift that keeps on giving. But here are some of the lowlights:

  • The average Peabody residential tax bill will go up by $142, but since that calculation considers every residential property in the city, get ready to be wacked much worse if you live in a house that is valued above $400K (which includes most of the homes west of Route 1).

 

  • The average annual tax bill is now more than $4,100, a 20% increase since Bettencourt took office in 2012. Although these modest increases don’t seem like much on an annual basis, most of us are paying close to $700 more a year in property taxes since the first Bettencourt budget.

 

  • Since 2001, the average Peabody resident tax bill has almost doubled. That’s right, an almost 100% increase since Torigian left office.

Now, the mayor tonight is likely to try and soften the blow by talking about higher property values, and how our taxes are still lower on average than most other North Shore communities.

But the property value argument (raising city wide property assessments is how they got to the increase number), won’t be a benefit to seniors on fixed incomes, who plan to live in their home until death do them part. People living on Social Security and Medicare have legitimate fears that – if taxes continue to increase – they won’t be able to live out their lives in the homes they worked so hard to own outright. Or, that higher taxes will force them to choose between food or medications. And, I’ll remind the mayor and our city councilors that 85% of residents over the age of 70 always vote.

As for the “we’re still one of the lowest taxed on the North Shore” argument? Well, that and five bucks will get you a nice Holiday Latte at Starbuck’s. Peabody seniors don’t pay taxes in Salem, Danvers or Lynnfield, so that argument is about as relevant as Al Franken’s next vote in the Senate.

At the end of the day, I think all we’d like is a solution. As my colleague Dick Jarvis, himself a senior living on a fixed income, said last night on our “You Make the Call” TV show on PAT: “Why can’t government do what the rest of us do: Live within our means?” In other words, what would be so wrong with the mayor saying: “We’re just going to have to tighten our belt, and not raise taxes again this year, and I’m asking my department heads to come to me with a budget proposal that is 5% less than last year?”

It’s what Torigian would have done.

Here’s hoping that, as he’s delivering yet another tax increase “kiss” tonight that Ted says, “read my lips, no tax increase next year.”

But since the track record indicates otherwise, we highly doubt it.

The double standard continues with Teflon Teddy B

3 Nov

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

The hypocrisy continues!

The “outrage” over Ward 4 Council challenger Bukia Chalvire using a photo of Mayor Ted Bettencourt just got a little more interesting. And it might indeed be time for the Mayor and Ward 4 Councilor Ed Charest to apologize to Ms. Chalvire for their smear of her good name over this “fake” controversy.

That’s because — after learning that Charest was using photos of himself and the mayor on his campaign Facebook page without the endorsement of his honor — we now see that Teflon Ted himself recently sent out a campaign flier with pictures of at least two elected officials, who have NOT endorsed the mayor, nor given permission that their likeness be used on campaign materials.

As a late, great Peabody newspaper editor would say in this situation — yikes!

Take a look at the campaign flier below: in it are images of Councilor At-Large Anne Manning Martin and outgoing Ward 6 Councilor Barry Sinewitz, both well-known elected officials. Well, my moles tell me that neither Manning Martin nor Sinewitz gave the Mayor permission to use them in his campaign flier, which was mailed to households across Peabody. Personally, I don’t think it’s a big deal at all, but if you are going to criticize Ms. Chalvire for doing the same thing, you’re a gigantic hypocrite! Or, you are indeed trying to do a political hit job on a candidate who has a chance right now to beat your lackey in Ward 4.

The images are small, so it’s not that easy to see here, but Manning Martin and Sinewitz, who have not endorsed Bettencourt this election cycle, are in two of those shots.

Borrowing from Bill Shakes, me thinks that Teflon Ted doth protest too much over Ms. Bukia using his image without permission.

BTW, if you live in Ward 4, think about that after you get another hit piece this weekend from the Charest campaign, where they further attempt to drag Bukia Chalvire’s good name through the mud. You definitely know that’s what is coming next.

Ted

 

Hypocrisy and dirty politics; Charest needs to apologize

3 Nov

CharestYesterday, Ward 4 Councilor Ed Charest, who is in a close race with up and coming challenger Bukia Chalvire, accused his opponent of using a photo of her and Mayor Ted Bettencourt on campaign materials without permission.

Just to show you Mr. Charest’s hypocrisy, here’s a photo that we found on Charest’s very own CAMPAIGN Facebook page. What? It’s OK for him to put this on Facebook, and deceive people into thinking HE was endorsed by the mayor?

Or, will the mayor run cover for his boy again, and say Charest got permission here in triplicate? 🙂

And . . . here’s one on Ed’s CAMPAIGN Facebook page with the mayor and State Rep Tom Walsh. Did he get permission to use this on his campaign site?

Charest2

These “hit jobs” on new people wanting to run for office in Peabody need to stop!

Now that these photos have surfaced, Mr. Charest owes Ms. Chalvire an apology.

Dirty political tricks continue to prevail in Peabody

2 Nov

By Bob Croce, EOP publisher

How can you tell when a hack incumbent politician is nervous he’s losing the week before an election? He comes up with a sleazy dirty trick, and then enlists help from his powerful establishment pals to smear a citizen who had the “nerve” to want and serve her community.

Thus is the case in Peabody’s Ward 4, just six days before another biennial city election.

bukia

Vote for Bukia Chalvire on Tuesday

A newcomer to Peabody elections, a woman named Bukia Chalvire, has for the past several months been working hard to unseat first-term incumbent Ward 4 Councilor Ed Charest. You may also know Ed from his days on the school committee, where he and the rest of the gang helped bring our public education system to the brink of state receivership.

But today Chalvire, an immensely likable candidate, who has for months run an immensely positive campaign — powered by door-knocking and lots of shoe leather — learned why new people, with great ideas for our city and a desire to serve, don’t even bother getting involved.

If you go to the online version of the Salem News this evening, you’ll see an article that would make you think that Robert Mueller was about to expand his investigation to include a Peabody mom, who just wanted to be your Ward 4 Councilor.

While likely coercing an inexperienced Snooze reporter into thinking that this was actually some sort of scandal, Charest’s buddies planted a story that questioned Chalvire’s character, integrity and ethics.

So what did Chalvire do to get that kind of negative press in the dying days of the campaign? Well, she had the “nerve” to post a photo on a campaign piece of her, her lovely family and a smiling Mayor Ted Bettencourt, taken at a recent campaign fundraiser.

Now, please keep in mind that Teflon Ted was in no way forced to pose for this photo with the Ward 4 challenger. From what we can tell, he wasn’t held at gunpoint or tied up and gagged. He wasn’t ambushed. Candidates do this with each other all the time. Sometimes these photos end up on Facebook pages, sometimes in campaign flyers.

And BTW, candidates – including this former one — post pictures of themselves and this mayor all the time on their campaign Facebook pages following fundraisers. Yet, I’ve never heard Teflon Ted, who wants to be everyone’s “friend” and says he never endorses anyone, decry candidates – including Charest – for doing this on social media.

But now Charest has tried to turn it into a major scandal, claiming that his challenger lacks integrity because the flier photo makes it look like Teflon Ted is endorsing Chalvire. As a part of Peabody’s hack political establishment (if ever there was a swamp that needed draining, this is it), he even got Teflon Ted to jump on board in the smear campaign.

“I certainly have not endorsed Bukia Chalvire for councilor,” Bettencourt told the reporter he probably helped dupe too. “Nor did I give her permission to use my picture on her campaign literature piece.”

Then the mayor, who never endorses anyone added: “I have worked with councilor Ed Charest in city government for the past 10 years. He has always impressed me as a hard-working, dedicated person who cares deeply for the residents of Peabody. I think he is doing a great job for Ward 4.”

First off, Chalvire has never said that Bettencourt is endorsing her. But if this mayor – who continues to build his kingdom by fleecing the taxpayers with never-ending series of unnecessary patronage jobs – is really upset about this, maybe he should not purposely pose with the candidates he doesn’t want to see get elected.

Besides, why is this mayor commenting at all on foolish articles like this one? I mean, with traffic gridlock, no real plan to revitalize a decaying downtown, a school system in crisis, and another resident tax increase coming next month, you would think that Teflon Ted had plenty of other things to keep him occupied.

But I digress, since the real culprit for the smear of this truly good woman is Mr. Charest himself, who after planting the article whined: “My integrity is very, very important to me and I’ve worked with the mayor for 10 years.”

Integrity is important to him? Oh, is that why he also smeared his last opponent when he first ran for Ward 4 Councilor two years ago?

So, I’m sitting here this evening, having not written in this space for months, and thinking again what a truly sick political culture we have in the City of Peabody.

I mean, isn’t Bukia Chalvire the type of candidate we’ve been clamoring for in days when people are disturbed and disgusted by establishment politicians? For those who don’t know, she is an epitome of the American Dream, having immigrated from Haiti in her 20s, working hard and becoming an American citizen, and then settling to raise her family in what she figured was the friendly community of Peabody, MA.

But what she gets instead is victimized.

And we wonder why.

Is it because she is a woman and not one of the mayor’s good ole boys? 

Or, is it because she is an immigrant and a minority? Peabody politics, after all, is fairly devoid of both female and minority elected officials. Despite our great diversity as a community, there is just one woman on the city council, and not a single person of color.

And the one woman on the Council, a fighter for the people named Anne Manning Martin is treated like the proverbial skunk at a picnic. In other words – along with outgoing Ward 6 Councilor Barry Sinewitz – she’s the only one who’s not a rubber stamp for Teflon Ted, and because of that she’s considered by all the Mayor’s Men as a troublemaker who refuses to go along to get along. That’s right, Manning Martin instead tries to always and only represent the interests of the people who elected her. How dare she!

You know, I had planned not to have this space endorse anyone this campaign season. But if you’re reading this and live in Ward 4, please do the right thing on Tuesday and vote for Bukia Chalvire.

It’s time to push back once and for all on the political goon tactics that always seem to go on in our fair berg.

 

Give ’em bread and circuses; happy 161st birthday, Peabody!

1 May

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

If you must truly distract from what’s going on, give them bread and circuses. It’s the old Roman way, and there’s no doubt that Peabody’s ruling politicians have learned this lesson from our ancient cousins.

The numbers are still adding up, and as you ponder what will likely be another annual property tax increase come December, courtesy of the Bettencourt Administration and signed off on by his merry men (aka the Peabody City Council), know this:

romans

The Mayor and Peabody’s City Council discuss our next tax increase

We’ve spent several hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars the past year on what is essentially a sham centennial celebration. That’s right, as I learned way back in Mrs. Ogren’s first grade class, Peabody was founded in 1855. That fact makes our past year of expensive parades and other events 61 years late, and . . . quite lame.

So, what exactly have they been using your hard-earned tax money on to celebrate?

Well, in 1916 Peabody went from having a town form of government to having a city form of government. In other words, before 1916 we used to run things like Danvers, but starting in that year we decided to run things like Beverly. It’s a truly “remarkable” reason to spend hoards of taxpayer money, right?

In 1872, it was called Peabody just like it is today, although I’m not sure back then that the “Dirty Biddy” nickname was as much en vogue.

In other words, our berg is NOT 100 years old. It’s a ripe, old 161!  But  . . . who doesn’t love a parade?!

And, when you’re trying to distract people from annual tax increases, mediocre schools and zero progress in making the downtown area a destination rather than a pass through, you give them bread and circuses.

After all, who in their right mind, would want to celebrate Peabody’s 161st birthday?

BTW, the fleecing of the taxpayers here finally ends with the Grand Centennial Ball, a pricey black-tie affair at the North Shore Mall on May 7th  (since they are all acting like Romans, wonder why they didn’t make it a toga party?)

As it says on the centennial ball website, “All good things must come to an end, and so to [sic] our Centennial celebration.”

So, eat drink and be merry Peabody in crowd. Rome is burning, and no one seems to care.

Council puts lights out on commissioners’ raises

7 Apr

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Wanted to write about this after the Peabody City Council’s finance committee voted to reject a raise for the Light Commissioners last night, but instead, I will allow Tom Paris, long-time Light Commissioner and “all-around great guy,” to sum up what happened when Peabody’s most-effective board came before the council to ask for what seemed like a reasonable raise.

The following was posted by Tom today on Facebook. I agree with him 100%.

Light Commissioner Tom Paris writing on Facebook:

Tom_ParasMy reaction: Disappointed but not Surprised.

Will I agree with EVERY decision of the City Council and Mayor – NEVER

Will I support the City Council and the Mayor – ALWAYS
As an elected official and a colleague, they should expect that of me
In turn, as an elected official and a colleague, I should expect that of them.

Disappointed – Yes, Surprised – No

It’s been more than two decades since the elected members of the Peabody Municipal Light Commission have gotten a raise, but for some members of the City Council, two decades is still not long enough. Even though we exist in a political arena where every other paid elected City official has had their salaries increased.
On Thursday night, the City Council’s finance committee considered a request from the light commissioners for a raise to $5,100 per year. The five-member, elected board last saw its pay upped to $4,000 per year in 1996. In considering that request, finance committee member, John Turco (Ward 2), said we should be denied our request because of the results of the last PMLP labor contract. Relevant? In their mindset I guess so. I know that I was not elected to run the City and I do not believe that they were elected to run the Light Plant. When the Finance Committee’s Report was read at Thursday’s City Council Meeting – not one Councilor came forward to call for a vote of the Councilors present.

Thankfully the PMLP Board does not deliberate with retaliation in mind, or telling the City Council how to do their job, or if doing the right thing will hurt us during the upcoming election, or what the Salem News is going to say, but rather we focus on the merits of the issue before us and whether this will help us to continue to provide our customers with the Most Reliable Service at the Lowest Possible Cost. Look at our record – we do a great job for the City and we do a great job for the residents of Peabody. Although not appreciated by the current City Council – we are very much appreciated by those who matter – the residents who own The Peabody Municipal Light Plant – the people we serve and will continue to serve to the best of our ability.

Disappointed – Yes, Surprised – No

A tale of seeking out big fish rather than basic roast beef

24 Mar

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

There are a million stories in the naked city, and … this is just one of them.

In our tale, the Feds find half a million in cash from two safety deposit boxes, (let’s face it, that’s a lot of chicken kabob salads and roast beef sandwiches), causing them to arrest the owners of a local joint. But that might not be the most-interesting part of this tale.

144209.ME.1223.cadillac1.FO.jpgAfter all, this family’s deep legal troubles around obstruction of justice, and perhaps, a question over whether they paid their fair share to a little outfit called the IRS, is only of passing prurient interest.

In our tale, people start to wonder, as part of a potential sentencing deal cut with the Feds, if the accused will turn rat quicker than the time it takes to make a large Italian with hots and extra salami.

We take you back a few years, to a time when a family opens a second little sit down restaurant on the a posh side of the berg, and then comes before city solons to request that rules be amended so they can obtain a liquor license for their new establishment.

But when nearby neighbors strenuously oppose this liquor license pursuit, their elected representative does what all good elected officials do: He stands by the neighborhood, and fights to keep the restaurant from becoming a boozy cash bonanza.

Interestingly, several other solons, including one we’ll call “Vito,” are decidedly in favor of the restaurant getting a liquor license. Traditionally, it’s SOP for solons to defer to the wishes of an area’s representative on such hyper local neighborhood issues. But not in this case. With few exceptions, the diligent area solon — after saying he will 100% support the wishes of the neighbors — finds himself feeling like Custer at Little Big Horn. There are cries from his colleagues of “have a drink and relax. This family ain’t hurtin’ those whiny neighbors.”

A few months later – surprise, surprise – the local solon unexpectedly finds himself with an opponent (let’s call him Butch) for reelection in that fall’s election. Nothing to see here, of course, except for the fact that the incumbent’s opponent is openly supported by the family seeking the liquor license. One day, while having brewskies following a game at the local Little League diamond,Vito also encourages Butch to run. “There might be some nice little envelopes in it for ya,” Vito suggests.

Who knows. Maybe the moral of our little story is that spreading around thousands of undeclared Franklins, Hamiltons, Lincolns and Washingtons can be a good way to get powerful interests to see things your way. Wink. Wink.

Let’s also say that it usually never fails that those facing very serious Federal charges, and the potential for long jail sentences, often have their attorney seek leniency by telling law enforcement things to help them hook even bigger fish.

Sleep well on that last point, local politicos. And, of course, maybe former local politicos.

Until then, though …

I’ll finish this tale after I have a chicken kabob dinner, with feta and onions, and well-done steak fries.

Best wishes on a fast recovery for Councilor At-Large Anne Manning-Martin

18 Aug

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Councilor Anne Manning-Martin

Councilor At-Large Anne Manning-Martin

Over the years, we’ve been friends and foes, agreed on some issues, disagreed on many others. But one thing I will always say or write is that Anne Manning-Martin always votes in the best interests of those residents she serves as a councilor at-large.

So, with that, I just wanted to wish Anne a speedy recovery from major back surgery, and hope that she’s back doing the business of the people of Peabody soon as possible.

After all, let’s face it, there are only two current Peabody City Councilors who are always on the side of the people they represent: Ward 6 Councilor Barry Sinewitz, and Anne.

By the way, the back surgery Manning-Martin underwent, was no minor matter.

“I really wasn’t supposed to walk again. It was kind of a Hail Mary operation,” Manning-Martin told the Salem News this week. “I just consider myself lucky and blessed.”

And Peabody residents will be lucky to have her back in there fighting for them again real soon.

Peabody needs ‘signs’ of economic development in the form of a master plan

15 Jul

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

This might surprise followers of this space, but I actually think that the digital billboard approved by the Peabody City Council last week on city-owned land off Route 128 near Fishery Products International is good for the taxpayers.

Square

We continue to wonder when we’ll have an overall strategic plan for re-developing Peabody’s downtown

The company erecting the 60-foot sign will pay Peabody an initial $500,000, an initial permitting fee of $25,000, and $250,000 a year. It’s significant revenue for the city, and from what I can see, it’s not a huge threat to quality of life in surrounding neighborhoods.

But with me, that’s where the love ends for Mayor Ted Bettencourt’s strategy of looking for much-needed revenue by playing a continuous game of billboard roulette.

We get it, Ted. We all realize that the city needs the money, and that we can’t continue to raise taxes on resident payers, something that has happened for the past 13 straight years.

But dude, where’s the plan for sustainable revenue?

This strategy of blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ our mind, is not a plan at all.  In most cases, it’s a blight on our landscape, and simply quick-hit, unsustainable revenue. Not only that, but I think I might have heard somewhere that there is so-called “moratorium” against more billboards?

The stark reality of our economic situation in Peabody is that, these days, there seems to be no plan, no strategy for creating real, long-lasting, sustainable revenue. Oh sure, we have some “piecemeal” little victories here and there, a promise of a hotel in downtown, a few new restaurants, and an urban redevelopment consultancy is helping us analyze why Peabody Square is a ghost town on a Saturday night.

But there’s no strategic master plan, so  it’s either blight the roadsides with billboards, or keep shifting more of the burden on us … young families struggling to pay their mortgages, and seniors fearful that higher property taxes are going to eventually force them to sell their life-long homes.

Worse than not having a plan for increasing city revenues, is that there’s no one currently in the employ of the city with the skills and knowledge to even help us come up with that strategy.

I think the Mayor is an intelligent guy, but right now he needs to do what all smart, successful chief executives do, and surround himself with advisers who understand, inside and out, the keys to successful economic and community development. Clearly, based on the poor results, and based on us not having an overall strategic plan, those competencies don’t exist within the current Community Development Department.

Instead of adding new unnecessary positions, and assistants to the assistant here and there while paying off some old political debts, the Mayor needs to put together a plan to hire a person or persons who have helped other communities remarkably expand their commercial tax bases while improving quality of life.

He needs to look around, maybe even steal some of the best and the brightest talent from communities such as Salem and Newburyport, Melrose, and even Beverly.

How did these communities turn their blighted downtowns into full-speed-ahead economic engines, while making themselves destination communities for those who enjoy dining out and shopping? That’s something we need to find, and we need to model. Now, not later.

In these places, more responsible, quality business has resulted in more commercial tax revenue into these cities’ coffers. And, unlike billboard revenue, it’s sustainable, and of benefit to quality of life.

So, while we’re counting the big bucks from this latest billboard, let’s stop this game of billboard roulette, and realize, once and for all, that our community’s vibrancy and survival requires that we enlist the best and the brightest, and FINALLY, come up with a strategic plan that will make Peabody a destination rather than a pass through.

The by-product of that will be less of a tax burden on residents, and an overall boost to everyone’s quality of life.

Peabody tax and water bills on rise as city tries to pay for new voke school boondoggle

19 Jun

Mayor calls for $5.4M budget increase; $3M assessed to pay for new voke school

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

If you supported those wasteful, big-spending elected officials – especially State Rep Ted Speliotis — who pushed for Peabody to join in the taxpayer screw job called the new North Shore Technical school, then please, bend over right now and scream out “thank you, sir! May I have another?!”

Call this horror show The MEGA VOKE that ate the Peabody Taxpayers!

Artists rendering of MEGA VOKE!

Artist rendering of MEGA VOKE!

Because of this opulent and overly ostentatious new voke school in Danvers – which will only serve around 150 of Peabody’s roughly 6,000 students – not only are your property taxes going up in 2015, but get ready for an increase in water and sewer rates too.

 

Mayor Ted Bettencourt submitted his FY2015 city budget to the City Council, and it’s calling for a $5.4 million increase, of which roughly $3 million will go to offset our share of next year’s piece of the North Shore Voke pork pie.

The mayor, in a letter to the city council obtained by The Eye, says that roughly means an average tax increase of $189 per homeowner, and a likely, yet to be determined increase in Peabody’s traditionally reasonable water and sewer rates. For those keeping score, that’s 13 straight years of property tax increases in Peabody.

And … this is just Year 1 of this Disaster in Danvers. This state of the art, $133 million school in Speliotis’ hometown, is the “gift” that will keep on giving for Peabody taxpayers now and forever.

Speliotis, who faces an election year challenge from Peabody Republican Tom Lyons, not only got this Taj Mahal of a school for his hometown of Danvers, but I’m sure he made big labor happy with the building’s bloated construction costs, which are already over budget.

Then there’s the hacks-at-the-trough process they’re using in hiring administrators. The new school’s superintendent, a guy named Daniel O’Connell, will make $197,000/year. That’s about $50K more a year than what we thought was a big contract for Peabody Schools Super Joe Mastrocola. Looks now  like Joe was a huge bargain when you consider that he manages a system with roughly 5,550 more students than will attend O’Connell’s school.

And, it gets ever worse. Not only will Peabody need to pony up millions more to send a handful of students to this new school, but because we’re transferring students from our system to this regional voke system, Peabody is set to lose $504K additional when it comes to state aid.

Next time you complain about the conditions in Peabody’s public schools, think about this: It’s only going to get worse while we as a city figure out a way to pay for a school that will service less than 3% of Peabody’s total student population. And we haven’t even talked about the costs associated with our own much-needed new Higgins Middle School, where huge construction bills are in the mail.

At this point, I should add a disclaimer for those screaming that I’m anti-vocational education. This space supports vocational education as much as the next blog, but we’re just not seeing the practicality or fairness of bilking the taxpayers in this particular situation.

Here are the facts, ladies and gentlemen: An estimated 200 Peabody kids, who we could have given a valuable vocational education had we only – for a lot less cost – re-vamped our on Peabody Vocational High School – are now going to watch helplessly as 150 of their classmates hit the lottery and are allowed to attend this educational palace on the hill in Danvers.

So, please bend over today, and thank Ted Speliotis, and those Peabody City Councilors who voted for this disastrous “gift” that will keep on giving for us the taxpayers.